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Google confirms $7m Wi-Fi snooping settlement

12 Mar 2013
Google Street View car

Google has reached a settlement which would end the firm's long-running data harvesting case in the US.

The company will pay $7m to settle a case backed up some 38 US states.

"Consumers have a right to protect their vital personal and financial information from improper and unwanted use by corporations like Google,” said New York State attorney general Eric Schneiderman.

“This settlement addresses privacy issues and protects the rights of people whose information was collected without their permission."

The settlement ends a case against Google which dates back to 2010, when it was revealed that the company's Street View camera units had been illegally snooping in on local Wi-Fi networks while the vehicles were taking pictures for the service.

At the time, attorney generals in the various US states had expressed concern over Google's explanation of why it had collected the data and what it intended to do with it.

Google was slapped with similar charges in Europe in 2010. Authorities called on the company to come forward and explain its actions in collecting Wi-Fi data during its maps surveying trips across the EU.

The company said in a statement provided to V3 that it did not knowingly gather or profit from the data collection, which was said to be the work of a rogue engineer.

"We work hard to get privacy right at Google. But in this case we didn't, which is why we quickly tightened up our systems to address the issue," the company said.

"The project leaders never wanted this data, and didn't use it or even look at it."

The US Federal Trade Commission said in 2010 that it would not be pursuing any action against Google as the company did not appear to have retained or utilised the data it had collected.

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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